A revolution, a highway honeymoon

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By Myke U. Obenieta

So to speak

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


EVEN if hardly straight, a relationship would likely be smooth through a two-way street. Or else, where generosity doesn’t go far, it could only be fair enough to weep over the wreck from the head-on slip to heartbreak.

Sadly, love is the last that US President Barack Obama felt from Congress after he sweet-talked in his last State of the Union address about additional funding for infrastructure projects to no avail. Never mind his best intention to build more “bike lanes and pedestrian walkways designed to make urban living better.”

Perhaps, his opponents saw no further need for him to have his way where 23 states across the country have already paved a policy for motorists to extend passing bicyclists with three-feet clearance at least. To date, 39 states have taken their cue from activists’ call for Share-the-Road campaign—a long way to play catch-up with as far their counterparts in Cebu are concerned.

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Still something worth looking forward to, so they say. Don’t stop believing, as one song croaks.

Frogs may end up flat with their innards slathering a downpour-drenched pavement after pushing their limit of luck in the dark. A more sunlit story this time for us, according to the “eco-warriors” who appear relentless against rain on their parade after leaping after the faith-paved inroads into enlightenment from environmentalist/lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr.

Already clutching the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for his consciousness-raising crusade, Oposa and his followers are raring to hit the ground running after pushing the government and the Supreme Court for the green light on the legal principle of road-sharing: “Those who have less in wheels must have more in the road.”

Come on, they say as they welcome the official declaration of the 30th of March as National Road Sharing Day. Aside from Cebu, other pilot areas for the holiday are some parts of Iloilo, Pasig and San Juan.

When the notion of a “road revolution” initially led some biker advocates to occupy a corner of the country’s oldest street in Colon nearly three years ago, it was nothing short of romantic to dream of a cityscape less dreary with a breathing space from the dust and smog of the traffic. Hopefully, the honeymoon about an equitable road use for “motorists, cyclists and pedestrians” would last as long and as true to the enchanted ambition of the green-eyed petitioners of the Writ of Kalikasan.

Wishful thinking it may be to set into motion the other details of their delightful intention—an “organized, clean and affordable transportation system” and half of the road open for “covered sidewalks, all-weather-bike lanes and urban gardens.” But heaven would be handy, as one poet once gasped moonstruck, if one’s reach could exceed one’s grasp.

Holding no horses, the innocence of dreamers does entail an off-the-beaten-track sort of courage to steer clear from constraints of what we consider safe or practical.

Maybe this mindset, defiant against the urban inadequacy of space, is all we can learn from the children who figured in the news a few days ago for being reckless with their skateboards and rollerblades smack on the path of public transport.

How else to beat the savagery of the concrete jungle without the odd and obstinate survivor’s knack of the street-smart?

Dumbing us down, meanwhile, are the usual reports about the way things are—fresh blood from the spate of the same old mishaps, rabid dogs straying into the streets, frayed nerves over bottlenecks and road closures. So much so that no matter how convenient to cast aside, some lion-hearted intimations of the ideal—such as the craving for clean air and the lust for road sharing—are lovely enough to make our day.

(geemyko@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 13, 2014.

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